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Passing The Torch / Live-Action TV

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  • Power Rangers / Super Sentai:
    • Before PR began replacing the entire cast wholesale every season like its source material, it tended to do this with a few people at a time every so often as cast members got tired of the strict filming schedules, low pay, and career pigeonholing. In fact, the episodes in season 5 where this happened were actually named "Passing the Torch" pt. 1 and 2.
    • Starting around 2005, Super Sentai includes a small Stinger with each season finale showing the outgoing and incoming Red Rangers briefly interacting, symbolically handing off the franchise to the next season.
      • This actually seems to have been a discarded concept for Kamen Rider: a special scene was filmed wherein Kamen Rider 555's Takumi Inui literally passes the baton to Kamen Rider Blade's Kazuma Kenzaki before the two transform side-by-side. The hand-off was never actually aired and its existence was revealed years later in a magazine article.
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  • The whole "Island protector" thing on Lost - first Jacob (preceded by his "mother"), then Jack and Hurley.
  • Almost a Real Life example (perhaps even meta): In an episode of Smallville, the great Christopher Reeve guest stars as a scholar helping the young Man of Steel (Tom Welling) learn his destiny.
  • Meta example: Dirk Benedict, who played Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (1978) passed the cigar to Katee Sackhoff, who played Starbuck in the reboot. Said passing was done while the two Starbucks were each having a Starbuck's at Starbuck's.
  • In the first episode of Knight Rider, Michael Long is given the Knight Industries Two Thousand (better known as KITT) and a mission to protect innocent people from criminals "above the law" by the dying philanthropist Wilton Knight.
  • In the last episode of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Gannicus earns his freedom from being a gladiator. Before he leaves, he gives Crixus his necklace and declares him the new Champion of Capua.
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  • In the 1971 TV movie "Dr. Cook's Garden" a young doctor returns to his hometown and slowly begins to realize that the older doctor (Bing Crosby) he idolizes is making the town perfect by killing his patients who are bad people. At the end the older doctor tries and fails to kill the younger doctor and succumbs to a heart attack. He begs for help, but the younger doctor holds back because he thinks it's better for the old man to die with his reputation intact rather than being charged as a serial killer. The old doctor's last words to the young man were "That's how it starts."
  • In the sixth season finale of Psych, Shawn's dad retires from policing (again), disillusioned by the latest case, and hands Shawn his pocket knife.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Nagus". Grand Nagus Zek wanted to retire and name a successor, but after his son Krax failed the Secret Test of Character he had put before him, Zek decided to postpone it for a while. Played straight in the later episode "The Dogs of War" where he named Quark's younger brother Rom his successor.
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  • In the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) meets the Curator of the National Gallery played by Tom Baker.
  • Leverage: In “The Long Goodbye Job,” before he and Sophie go off into the sunset, Nate hands the reins of his empire over to Parker, of all people.
  • NCIS:
    • In "Family First," Tony names McGee as his Very Special Agent successor before officially stepping down to raise his and Ziva's daughter, Tali.
    • In "Bears and Cubs", Ducky decides it's time for him to retire. While Ducky decides to stay with NCIS as the part-time Agency Historian during the next episode, Jimmy Palmer still takes over as the Chief Medical Examiner.
  • NBC's telecast of The Wiz features Broadway's original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as Aunt Em to newcomer Shanice Williams' Dorothy. This torch-passing felt even more poignant with such promotional material as Mills and Williams singing "Home" together.
  • ER does this through the Arc Words "You set the tone", which is what David Morgenstern tells Mark Greene (the original main character) in the pilot episode as a way of keeping hospital morale up. When Mark Greene departs at the end of Season 8, he says the same thing to John Carter (who essentially takes over the role of main character afterwards). Likewise, when John Carter departs at the end of Season 11, he shares the sentiment with Archie Morris, only to jokingly retract it when he realizes that Morris is too drunk to register it. Despite that, Morris eventually matures and takes up the responsibilities as one of the senior doctors of the ER, something Carter notes when he makes a return in Season 15.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: At the end of season 3, Coulson stepped down as director due to his trauma over the mistakes he made the season, and planned to have Daisy Johnson succeed him. Unfortunately, due to her own trauma, she went on the run before they even had a chance to discuss it, and someone else is appointed for political reasons. In season 5, Coulson is director again, but insists that he needs Daisy to lead (to the point of knocking her unconscious to short-circuit her I Choose to Stay moment) because he's Secretly Dying.
  • Supergirl: At the end of the Elseworlds (2018) Crossover, Clark tells Kara that he's retiring as Superman because he and Lois are starting a family (which, among other things, means they need to leave Earth for a while). Clark's not worried, as he's always maintained that Supergirl is the better of the two heroes, but now Kara will be solely responsible for protecting the Earth.
  • In the Glee episode "Goodbye", the senior students in the club, who have essentially been its leaders since inception, sing "You Get What You Give" to the non-graduating students to pass it on to them.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • "Paladin of the Lost Hour" features a dying elderly man named Gaspar passing on the titular object (a pocket watch containing the lost hour of the world) to a new bearer, Billy Kinetta.
    • In "The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon", the title character explains to Dr. Jeremy Sinclair that the voice that he hears told him that he could retire to Miami. Dr. Sinclair then assumes the duty of keeping the world in balance and preventing disasters by maintaining the contraption in Edgar's apartment.

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